Following today’s series win in the Aberdeen Asset Management NSW State Title, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis and his crew on the prizewinning Sydney based Farr 40 Transfusion are closing in on a clean sweep of the class’ Australian Championship.
First there was the Queensland state titles in October, then the Tasmanian states last month and today the former Farr 40 world champion sailed away with the NSW crown after five races on Sydney Harbour this weekend.
Canadian born tactician Mike Leigh, an Olympic 470 representative, hit the right side of the course and it paid both times, Transfusion claiming the final two race wins.
“It was a lottery today, we stayed right and it worked for us,” said Belgiorno-Nettis dockside at the host club, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, this afternoon. “Mike Leigh did a fantastic job; we kept our noses clean and got two bullets.”
“Today was very tricky, we got lucky a few times ….it could have gone totally the other way,” admitted Leigh. “Julian Plante did a great job on strategy, feeding me information, the whole team is amazing. It’s a really good dynamic on board and there is crew consistency, which provides a good platform for success,” Leigh added.
On next weekend’s John Calvert-Jones Trophy, the climax of the Aberdeen Asset Management Australian Championships, the Australian Farr 40 class president is not getting ahead of himself. “We have set the point system up so that the final regatta counts for double points. This means if we don’t do well at next weekend’s nationals we won’t win the Australian Championship,” Belgiorno-Nettis added.
Shifts of 15-20 degrees made it another tricky day on the racetrack. Throw an enormous tanker, slow moving tall ships, the JJ second heat of the JJ Giltinan Trophy for the 18 footers, Manly ferries and weekend warriors, and that was what tacticians again had to factor into their decision making.
There was a collective giggle on the media boat when a chartered cruising boat skipper wandered into a start within seconds of the gun and tried to call starboard on two powered-up Farr 40s.
The dominance of Lang Walker’s Kokomo yesterday had them positioned at the top of the pointscore going into the concluding two races. Today’s two fifth places put them in uncomfortable and unfamiliar territory, but they had built enough of a lead yesterday to finish the series just two points adrift of Transfusion, on 15 points, and second overall.
“Conditions were very tricky, the shifts were incredible and we couldn’t take a trick today,” said Walker. “We were looking like a rooster one minute and feather duster the next.
“We won’t be doing anything different for the nationals though, we just got a few bad breaks today. All credit to Guido, he did a great job.”
Martin and Lisa Hill’s Estate Master also recorded mixed results, yesterday’s strong opening salvaging their final result and keeping them in trophy contention, a third overall wrapping up their NSW state title.
First Corinthian boat was Jeff Carter’s Edake. “Commitment, teamwork and dedication gave us the result,” said Carter at this afternoon’s trophy presentation at the RSYS.
As the morning breeze spun from east to north and back to east, the race committee was eventually forced to leave the 10 boat fleet floating off Chowder Bay while they scoured Sydney Harbour for breeze.
Race four got underway off Garden Island in 7 knots ESE, gusts out of Rose Bay making for a slightly more pressured-up top mark rounding off Shark Island. For race five, a right hand shift to 110 degrees triggered a minor course adjustment. Over the dry and warm Sydney summer day a top wind strength of 12 knots was recorded by the race committee, led by PRO Rob Ridley.
With a time limit of 3pm for the final warning signal to sound it was touch and go whether the committee would have time to sneak a second deciding race in. The clock was ticking towards the cut-off while the enormous Singaporean crude oil tanker Barents Sea made its way up the harbour and with 11 minutes to spare race 5 went into sequence.
Aberdeen Asset Management CEO Brett Jollie spent both days on the water, yesterday with client and today with staff and their families. On next weekend’s national title Jollie said, “We are really looking forward to next weekend as the culmination of the series. After following the competition closely these past two days we very keen to see how it pans out. We’ve seen that conditions can be variable and the harbour traffic introduces an element of luck, anyone can win on the day.”
The John Calvert-Jones Trophy will be conducted on Sydney Harbour next week, February 21 – 24, Thursdays night’s invitational race kicking off the three-day, 11 race national series. “Bring on next weekend” said Belgiorno-Nettis, rubbing his hands.